Opinion » The Rant

The Rant

Tim Sampson on the fizzled KKK rally, Overton Square's comeback, and farmers markets.

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They came, they got wet, they chanted, and they left. I'm referring, of course, to the members of the Ku Klux Klan who gathered downtown this past Saturday to protest the renaming of Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park, and Nathan Bedford Forrest Park. Well, I guess they did. I was going to go down there and sneak a gawk but decided it wasn't worth the gas, and they were going to be too corralled off to urinate on them. From what little I read about their little rally in the news, it doesn't seem that it was the "huge" protest they had threatened. I'm glad they went largely ignored, although it would have been nice if they had been tear-gassed just for fun. I despise their message, of course, and I will defend my humble opinion that free speech is not always such a great thing.

But enough about the haters. There are enough other good things going on in Memphis, including the renaming of those parks, that makes something like a little KKK rally all the more benign and invalid.

Have you driven by Overton Square lately? It is wild. There is so much construction and redevelopment and energy going on there it's great. I see it every day because I live closeby and drive through to get most anywhere. The good folks at Loeb Properties, who have taken the reins on this, are to be heartily congratulated. The streets are lighted at night, people are out walking around there, business seems to be booming, and there's more to come. I don't think the square will ever be like it was in the old days (mainly because they don't make quaaludes anymore), but it certainly is hopping and looking up. I just wish someone would bring Melos Taverna Greek restaurant back.

The new plans to put a little more life into Beale Street are good news, too, but please, please don't try to clean it up too much. It's just now gotten funky enough to feel real. It does need some more live music venues that showcase blues, R&B, and soul music, and hopefully that will happen. I wish there were living spaces above the businesses on Beale like there are in the French Quarter. Not that I could ever get out of my upside-down mortgage and move in down there, but it would be cool to have people actually living on Beale Street.

It's also time again for all of the farmers markets in Memphis to get back in full swing. I've been getting out to the Cooper-Young Farmers Market almost every Saturday morning during winter just to support it, but I'm ready for the real produce now. Can't wait for the tomatoes. God, I sound like such a boring old man.

So back to those Ku Klux Klan idiots. Can this kind of thing still exist in this day and time and not be outlawed for being a hate organization? Can a law not be passed that makes it illegal for them to run around in those pointy-headed masks spewing all that bigotry? It's time for all of that to end. They will die off someday, but they are training their kids to be just as hateful. Can that not be made illegal on the grounds of child abuse, especially when they trot the kids out for these rallies?

With the reelection of Barack Obama, and people finally realizing that gay people have rights and should be able to marry like anyone else, and the war in Iraq finally over, and the one in Afghanistan set to end soon, there seems to be a new, better age in the works for the United States, almost like some kind of shift toward a more thoughtful and less judgmental society. So why not get rid of the KKK kooks and other hate groups once and for all?

I have no idea how that could happen, unless they are confined to some kind of a colony of their own in the middle of nowhere and are not allowed to leave that space. Hell, send them to North Korea. You gotta kind of love North Korea for being such a pesky little country with all of its bombs and threats. It's not like the entire place couldn't be wiped off the map in about 5 minutes if it weren't for the killing of so many civilians. It's almost funny to me that Kim Jong Un keeps threatening to bomb the United States. Kim, bad move, dude. The only country that's ever used a nuclear bomb is the U.S., and Hiroshima's not someplace you want to emulate. Even more hilarious was his visit with Dennis Rodman. You just can't make that kind of thing up.

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